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hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sat Mar 08, 2003 2:31 pm

Hello!
I've been lurking here a while and finaly decided to introduce myself. I enjoy all types of music, but have a particular affinity for the blues.

I play music with two groups here in southwest Florida, doing calypso, folk, and Buffett type stuff with a group caled the Island Daze Duo and doing Cajun/Zydeco/Classic Rock/Blues with another group called the Yard Dogs.

When gigging, I play harp and a homebuilt bass instrument called a Jamaican Rhumba Box. I also sing vocals. I also play a bit of guitar, but only on rare occasions during gigs. I enjoy reading all the forums - particularly the Harp forum.

Check out the Yard Dogs website at http://www.geocities.com/tarvus33991/index.html

I look forward to participating in the forums here and exchanging thoughts with all of you.

best regards,
Tar
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RE: hello everyone

Postby blueswriter » Sat Mar 08, 2003 3:39 pm

Welcome to the Big Road, Tarvus. Bosco has been our resident harp guru for a long stretch and we just had the pleasure of welcoming Barbecue Bob aboard... have fun and post often

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RE: hello everyone

Postby houndog » Sat Mar 08, 2003 3:51 pm

Hello there Tarvus,
that is a nice spread of sounds and styles.

I and a playing partner are starting into the cajun/zydeco area.
He is getting really good on the squeeze box, and I love playing the chinka chugga guitar.

What is holding us back tho is amplyfing the squueze box, currently we have a mic bolted on the treble side...feedback is pretty frequent though.

Any good ( and cheap'ish) solutions to mic'ing the box for a good spread of sound?

adios,
Lovat.
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RE: hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sat Mar 08, 2003 4:20 pm

Hi Houndog,
Gee, I really don't have any good suggestions for you about mics for the squeeze box. My accordionist buddy, Charlie Kuchler, has internal pickups in his Baldoni accordion and he just plugs in straight to the PA with 1/4 inch guitar cords. If you are stuck trying to mic the accordion, you might try positioning your accordion player behind the speakers/amps and make sure you are using a directional mic in order to minimize feedback.

Glad to hear you guys are venturing into the Zydeco arena! A good 12 bar blues based Zydeco tune is Buckwheat Zydeco's "I've Got a Raccoon". You might want to give it a listen! Best of both worlds!
regards,
Tar
http://www.geocities.com/tarvus33991/index.html
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RE: hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sat Mar 08, 2003 4:22 pm

Thanks Blueswriter! I appreciate the welcome and will look forward to both Bosco's and Barbeque Bob's input!
Tar
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RE: hello everyone

Postby ricochet » Sat Mar 08, 2003 5:30 pm

Hey, welcome, Tar! I think these folks haven't been taking me seriously when I've said an accordion'd be a great blues instrument! After all, it is just a big-ass harmonica with keys.

How's that rhumba box work? Looks like it's got finger-actuated plungers striking metallophone bars mounted on a resonator box. Cool!
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RE: hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sat Mar 08, 2003 6:05 pm

>A good 12 bar blues based Zydeco tune is Buckwheat Zydeco's
>"I've Got a Raccoon". You might want to give it a listen!

Oops! Sorry. Make that "I Bought a Raccoon"!
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RE: hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sat Mar 08, 2003 6:26 pm

>Hey, welcome, Tar! I think these folks haven't been taking
>me seriously when I've said an accordion'd be a great blues
>instrument! After all, it is just a big-ass harmonica with
>keys.
>
>How's that rhumba box work? Looks like it's got
>finger-actuated plungers striking metallophone bars mounted
>on a resonator box. Cool!

Thanks Ricochet,
Actually, the accordion sounds great on blues tunes - especially shuffles and boogies. It adds an upbeat element to a song. We were playing Little Walter's "Mean Old World" as a slow blues tune, but got the idea to speed up the tempo and "zydeco-ize" the song with accordion backing rather than keyboards. Worked great! Now we inevitably have people up dancing when we do that number! :) I still get to blow harp during the solo, but due to the tempo, I can no longer keep up with the harp fills while singing it.

The rhumba box isn't quite as complex as you suggest though. Although it is "finger-actuated" (I love that term and will have to remember to use it!), it's just basically a bunch of stainless steel rulers clamped to a resonator box. There is an iron rod mounted beneath the keys to add some slight elevation to the tops of the keys and to add some brightness and sustain to the tone. It's tuned to a circle of 5ths and puts out a nice deep bass tone - especially when mic'ed into the PA. It is brutal on the fingers though. Friction from plucking - er..."finger-actuating" the keys will blister your fingertips and erode through heavy callous in a matter of minutes. I duct tape my playing fingers and use a canvas glove on top of the duct tape. I go through 3 to 4 gloves during a typical 4 hour gig.

regards,
Tar
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RE: hello everyone

Postby bosco » Sun Mar 09, 2003 4:29 pm

Welcome Tarvus-

I don't know if I'm the guru, but certainly great to see another harper join the site. I would love to hear your particular gigging techniques as they apply to the roots music you perform...play harp through the vocal mic?...do you have a separate amplifier for harp? What kind of harps do you prefer?...does Cajun/Zydeco favor certain keys? Feel free to add your .02 cents to any of the threads in the harp forum.

Also- Your Rhumba box/duct tape situation reminds me of a young busker I saw in Nashville, Tenn playing the Doghouse bass...with black electrical tape wrapped around all the fingers of his right hand! Played the hell out of it, he did...

Bosco

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RE: hello everyone

Postby ricochet » Sun Mar 09, 2003 5:29 pm

I'm thinking that an instrument wearing out 3 or 4 gloves in a gig could use a little practical improvement. But hey, maybe that's just the price of art.
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RE: hello everyone

Postby david » Sun Mar 09, 2003 9:25 pm

Welcome, Welcome. We do have variety here, and focus it all back on blues.

If you check the past posts I think you will find lots of information you will find useful, especially the tips on how to prevent anybody else from playing your harp.

Actually you will learn a lot here. And some of it may be useful.




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RE: hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sun Mar 09, 2003 9:55 pm

>Welcome Tarvus-
>
>I don't know if I'm the guru, but certainly great to see
>another harper join the site. I would love to hear your
>particular gigging techniques as they apply to the roots
>music you perform...play harp through the vocal mic?...do
>you have a separate amplifier for harp? What kind of harps
>do you prefer?...does Cajun/Zydeco favor certain keys? Feel
>free to add your .02 cents to any of the threads in the harp
>forum.

Thanks for the welcome, Bosco!

In answer to your questions, yes, I play harp through the vocal mic, but doing so is not without it's problems. Presently we use 3 mics - a Shure 58, a Shure Beta58 and another relatively inexpensive Shure which has since been discontinued (that's the one we use to mic the rhumba box). I don't use a separate amp for harp at present, but play straight to the PA through either the 58 or the Beta - depending on the number we are doing and which, if any, of my bandmates is doing vocals or backups on the tune. We really really need more mics, but presently have all channels on the PA filled, so we need a mixer to run them through first so we have a free channel to plug them in. As is so typical, money is tight at the moment, so we make do with what we have. Given that we had the money, I would love to try one of those Hohner Bluesblasters plugged into a Harp Commander and on into the PA or alternatively, one of those harmonica honker mics direct to the PA.

If I am doing just harp (no vocals) on a song, and have a mic to myself, then we turn the volume down on the mic allowing me to cup the mic. More often, I am doing both vocals and harp fills/solo and wind up using the same mic for both. If the mic is hot, I play harp acousticaly into it and sing normal. If the mic is turned down, I cup the mic for harp, but have to sing REAL loud and just about eat the mic to make myself heard on the vocals. It varies song by song.

As far as Cajun/Zydeco favoring certain keys, it's possible. I think Zydeco bands that have horn accompanyment like to use the key of Bb - perhaps for the versatility it provides the horn players? For our band, we choose the key based on which one of us is singing so we use a key suited to the vocalist. In its current iteration, the rhumba box can only handle natural keys - no sharps or flats, but in the NEW soon to be buit version, there will be 12 reeds on the box allowing us to use any key. Presently just about everything we do is in G, D, E, C, and A.

Hope that answered your questions!
regards,
Tar
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RE: hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:09 pm

>What kind of harps do you prefer?...

Sorry Bosco, left this off my previous answer. I've tried Lee Oskars, Suzuki Promaster, Hohner Marine Bands and Special 20s. I would have to say the Special 20 is a slight favorite to the Marine Band and far ahead of the Lee Oskars and Suzuki Promaster in terms of my personal preference.

regards,
Tar
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RE: hello everyone

Postby tarvus » Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:13 pm

>>What kind of harps do you prefer?...
>
>Sorry Bosco, left this off my previous answer. I've tried
>Lee Oskars, Suzuki Promaster, Hohner Marine Bands and
>Special 20s. I would have to say the Special 20 is a slight
>favorite to the Marine Band and far ahead of the Lee Oskars
>and Suzuki Promaster in terms of my personal preference.

Oops! I keep forgetting things! I also have a full set of Huang Star Performers and have tried the Hohner Golden Melody. I love the shape of these but the Huangs leave a bit to be desired quality wise and I prefer the tuning of the SP20 to the Golden Melody.

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RE: hello everyone

Postby bosco » Mon Mar 10, 2003 1:19 pm

>If I am doing just harp (no vocals) on a song, and have a
>mic to myself, then we turn the volume down on the mic
>allowing me to cup the mic. More often, I am doing both
>vocals and harp fills/solo and wind up using the same mic
>for both. If the mic is hot, I play harp acousticaly into
>it and sing normal. If the mic is turned down, I cup the
>mic for harp, but have to sing REAL loud and just about eat
>the mic to make myself heard on the vocals. It varies song
>by song.

Tarvus-

Try this for a hot vocal mic. Hold your harp in your left hand and cup with your right hand. Put the heels of your palms up to the mic leaving a tunnel of about 3 inches to the harp. This will give you much more control of the volume and harp tone, and you can leave the mic hot for your vocals. I have a separate bullet and amp for harp, but I play several songs through the PA for variety. I sing a lot too, so this method works well for me so I don't have to adjust the mic levels constantly. If you are going to cup the ball mic for harp, turning down the treble and volume are your only options, as you noted.

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